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Irish face tough test at home

Mike Gilloon | Friday, January 30, 2004

For the second week in a row, the Notre Dame track and field teams will stay at home. Michigan State, DePaul, Marquette and Butler will take on the Irish tonight at 7 p.m. in the Loftus Sports Center – and coach Joe Piane expects his team to be tested. “Michigan State should be very strong in the sprints,” he said. Piane also believes the Irish will be challenged by Butler and Marquette in the distance events.Notre Dame will have to do without their distance quartet of Eric Morrison, Thomas Chamney, Kurt Benninger and Ryan Postel. The four of them will compete in the distance medley relay Sunday in Boston at the adidas Invitational. The meet is sponsored by USA Track and Field and features some of the top college teams in America. The event will be televised nationally Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Despite their absence, the Irish men are expected to do well in other events Friday night. Selim Nurudeen will be tough to beat in the 60-meter hurdles, as the junior is currently first in the Big East and 12th nationally with a time of 7.90 seconds. Senior Godwin Mbagwu is the Big East leader in the triple jump and is also fourth in the conference standings for the long jump.Junior Trevor McClain-Duer is coming off a first place finish last week in the 500 meters and will make another run at the top spot tonight. The Notre Dame women are ranked 21st nationally. They are led by the 4 by 400-meter relay team of Tiffany Gunn, Ayesha Boyd, Okechi Ogbuokiri and Kristen Dodd. Last week, they posted a time of 3:45.70 seconds, good enough to rank first place in the Big East. Gunn, a junior from Little Rock, Ark., is also second in the conference in the 500 meters, seventh in the 60-meter hurdles, and ninth in the 400 meters. High jumper Stacy Cowan will try to improve on an already successful season. She ranks second in the conference and 15th nationally with a jump of 1.78 meters, very close to the school record of 1.80 meters. Freshman Maryann Erigha is expected to be strong in the 60-meter dash, as she has posted a time of 7.55 seconds, good enough for second place in the conference. Sophomore Molly Huddle and junior Kerry Meagher should do well in the mile run. Huddle is third in the Big East with a time of 4:49.21, and Meagher ranks fourth with a mark of 4:52.32.